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XLR8R's Best of 2012: Releases, Part One

XLR8R's Best of 2012 coverage has admittedly included a lot of lists this year, but it's a safe bet that today's feature kicks off what is likely the most anticipated round-up of them all. Following a whole lot of year-end-list foreplay, we've finally arrived at our picks for the top 40 releases of 2012. Furthermore, keeping in line with our list of the year's top tracks, we've asked all of the artists selected to jot down a few of their thoughts about the record's we've picked.

For the sake of laying down the ground rules, we should explain that we considered a release to be anything with two or more original tracks on it. That means albums, EPs, and certain 12"s were all in the running; we also elected to include mix albums and reissues in this category. As with all of our lists, narrowing down the candidates was no easy task, even when choosing 40 different records. The first half of the list can be found below, and we'll wrap it up with our 20 favorites tomorrow.


40. DJ Rashad
TEKLIFE Vol. 1: Welcome to the Chi
(Lit City)

"[Lit City] was started by J-Cush and myself with the aim to create a platform true to the artist's raw vision, whether [it's] footwork or something else entirely. Before we launched as a label, footwork was being presented from an outsider's vantage point tailored to idiosyncratic tastes. Having our own label means that we can maintain our truest identities and total creative control as producers without regulation of our sound to match someone else's ideals. We put out the real and the raw. We don't want to water shit down.

It is dope to take our sound to the people all over the world and share with them what we do and see people love the movement. The reception to Welcome to the Chi has been phenomenal, especially for our first release. Shout out to everyone who has supported us. Teklife Vol. 3: The Manny and Rashad Show is out early 2013. Traxman is Vol. 4 right after. See y'all real soon. It's Teklife!" - DJ Rashad



39. Bandshell
Dust March EP
(Hessle)

"I was reading a collection of interviews with Tom Waits at the time. Toward the latter half of his career, he developed this 'everything including the kitchen sink' sort of sound. It basically sounded like he was bashing away on a scrapheap, which he was. He accumulated all manner of objects and set to them, smacking a chest of drawers with a 2x4, for example.

I don't own a mic or any recording equipment, so I ended up digging through the virtual scrapheap until I found what I was after. Most of the sounds in the title track are samples of various objects or bits of junk: doors, scaffold poles, and whatnot. It's carried over into some of the other tracks—you can hear a scaffold pole crop up in 'Dog Sweater,' but not to the same extent.

Age, decay, and obsolescence frighten me, so I like the idea of giving new purpose to something that may not have been built or designed with that purpose in mind."
- Bandshell



38. Pinch
Fabriclive 61
(Fabric)

"2012 has been a strange year for EDM in my opinion. It feels like a lot of scenes have been treading water and fine tuning sounds and ideas rather than progressing them. I have high hopes for 2013 and personally feel a genuine enthusiasm for music, which I've not fully had (in all honesty) for a few years. It's time for the next chapter to unfold and I'm ready to embrace it. Thanks for acknowledging my Fabriclive mix—it's a tastemaker for the direction I've been priming for awhile now." - Pinch



37. Objekt
"Cactus" b/w "Porcupine"
(Hessle)

"'Cactus' was never really meant to be taken seriously; it's just an irreverent bit of fun taking the piss out of wobble dubstep (which was more of a hot topic a few years ago when I wrote it than it is now). I had Autechre in mind when I made 'Porcupine,' but in the end, I think it does its own thing. Of everything I've written, I actually think it represents me best, which is funny considering that it's paired up with the silliest track I've ever released." - Objekt



36. Sigha
Living with Ghosts
(Hotflush)

"I set out to make an album that represented me as an artist but wasn't simply a collection of club tracks. Living with Ghosts wasn't an album that came together easily, certainly not for the majority of the writing process, though something seemed to click in the last third and everything fell into place. It wasn't until I listened back with a bit of distance from it that I realized how bleak the record is. Given that, I've been fairly overwhelmed and extremely happy with the way it's been received." - Sigha



35. Tevo Howard
Monument EP
(Buzzin' Fly)

"'Monument,' as a song, was intended as a way to explore tonal syncopation and to exploit a downbeat dominance, while "The Wind of the World" explored a more exotic dominance other than the downbeat—the 'wind' of the tune is how it got its name. Lastly, "Conditional Love" followed yet another exotic tone-color dominance that was purely for the dancer." - Tevo Howard



34. J. Alvarez
Overseas Highway EP
HypeLTD

"I'd been focusing on nothing but electro for a long time, and finally decided to try something different, so I downshifted the tempo a bit and worked around the feel of a house groove. The one thing I did focus on with this EP was melody and tracks that would work both on the dancefloor or at home. My electro stuff tends to be on the darker side. I used an alias, but my roots are still there. Having Hypercolour release this was definitely a highlight for me in 2012." - J.Alvarez



33. Disclosure
The Face EP
(Greco-Roman)

"We're very happy to have released our first EP this year, The Face. And ever happier for it to be considered as one of the year's best! We are absolutely chuffed and can't wait to follow it up with an album next year." - Disclosure



32. Oneman
Fabriclive 64
(Fabric)

"The way I approached the Fabric CD was very much based on a current reflection of a set I would play at the club. I feel I have a lot of variation when it comes to playing music in clubs, but I love to restrict myself as much as I love to go everywhere, so it was nice to distance the sound and mixing methods a little from my Rinse: 11 CD.

I guess the profile of the Fabric CD makes you want it to stand the test of time and that was the hardest part regarding selection for the mix, but with these things, I think it's best not to overthink anything and treat it as much [like] a live set as you can, even though with licensing it had to be semi-planned. There were a lot of garage tracks that were pretty much impossible to license, with them [only having been] released on a small label or white label." - Oneman



31. Anenon
Acquiescence EP
(Non Projects)

"Music is perhaps the most elusive of all of the arts. We constantly seek resonances, over and over again. Acquiescence evokes so many personal reverberations that it's hard for me to keep track of them all, though my time in Madrid and the hours clocked away in the downstairs of that beautiful Montecito Heights house come to mind right now. Listening back takes me to these places and fills my mind with the people that inhabited them, yet most importantly, it reminds me that there is still so much more to do. In the meantime, thank you for listening!" - Anenon



30. Bicep
Vision of Love EP
(Feel My Bicep)

"The idea behind FMB001 was to create a load of very DJ-friendly, fun tracks that we enjoyed playing out and would fit into most of our sets. We were heavily inspired by the playfulness of much of the early-'90s house we love, and wanted to capture that energy with a modern twist! We've been completely blown away by how it's been received, as we were a little unsure when we came to release it." - Bicep



29. Todd Edwards
Shall Go EP
(Body High)

"The Shall Go EP represents a return to the soulful roots of my earlier work. The title track was actually a work that I had started 15 years ago but never developed. It just felt like the right time to finish the track. The project marked [my] first new EP release on a label since 2008. I'm thankful to have it on a label whose music is very fresh and innovative, and it was all born from a conversation at A Club Called Rhonda between my manager Alexis Rivera and [Body High co-founder] Jerome LOL." - Todd Edwards



28. Drexciya
Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller
(Clone)

"Drexciya is for me one of the most important groups in techno history, and its music was not available anymore to the current generation of listeners growing up with electronic music. Drexciya arguably stands for the darker side of techno and electro; music not only made for the club scene, but for a further development of music as an expression and extension of the mind—raw and uncompromising music that reflects the harsh environment of the city where Drexciya was conceived, combined with the mindset of the producers. The aesthetics, the mythical approach, and the unique music made Drexciya one of the biggest cult projects in electronic music in general." - Serge Verschuur, founder of Clone



27. oOoOO
Our Loving is Hurting Us EP
(Tri Angle)

"I honestly can't remember much about making these songs. Or why I made them. Or what they were supposed to mean. Whenever I listen to music I've made, I'm always sort of shocked. I'm hit with the sense that my dreams have been recorded and I'm somehow playing them back to my awakened self. The sensation's exceptionally strong with this particular record because I made it all around the world, often while sleep deprived, in places I'd never been before. Sometimes in places I have no connection to. But also in places that have great emotional meaning for me, but that are on the the other side of the world from where I live. The estrangement deepens when I consider some of this music came not from me, but out of the heart of Laura Clock, who helped make this record. Even the title, Our Loving is Hurting Us, figures in my mind only as some vaguely grasped intuition from the time I was making it—that maybe when our dreams come true, we're left emptier than even the hungry kids we once were when we started making music in the first place.

I'm not the most introspective person. I don't read much. But once I came across, in some magazine I think, something about how what we make in the present can't really be understood until much later. The little traces of ourselves we leave around, like this record for example, are not the culmination of all we've worked for up to that point, but some sort of limited premonition of what is still to befall us, like a fragment from our own future or whatever. So that only 10, 20, 50 years from now, I'll be able to look back at this music and have some idea of what it was saying to me. And maybe I'll be shocked to realize that I actually did hear the train wreck that my life would become approaching in the darkness way ahead." - oOoOO



26. Benjamin Damage and Doc Daneeka
They!Live
(50Weapons)

"Working together had never been a plan for us. We've been friends for ages, but never really made any music together. Then one day we ended up making 'Creeper'—it was a spur-of-the-moment thing and it just sounded right. When Modeselektor heard it, they loved it, and later that year offered us the opportunity to do a full-length collaboratively. They also suggested we record it in their studio in Berlin. Without them, we would never have made the record. [In the summer of 2011], we both moved to Berlin and started work. It was a pretty nuts time—the emotions of leaving everything you know to the excitement of living in such an amazing place—but I think we really channeled that into the record. We're really glad it has been received so well."
- Benjamin Damage & Doc Daneeka



25. Ben Klock
Fabric 66
(Fabric)

"It was a huge honor to participate in the Fabric mix CD series, and it was the result of some perfect timing. Literally a couple of weeks before they got in touch, I thought of how cool it would be to do a Fabric mix. So when they politely asked me if I'd consider it, I got a big smile on my face and said, 'Hell yeah!' It was funny, we had the same idea but were a bit shy to approach each other. It was a real pleasure to work with them—they are super professional and passionate. I'm really happy with how it turned out and am amazed at the response. I'm still getting the craziest fan mails about it." - Ben Klock



24. L-Vis 1990
Club Constructions Vol. 1
(Night Slugs)

"Club Constructions Vol. 1 was a kind of punk reaction to all the clean-cut, Logic-sounding deep and tech house that had begun to emerge on the UK scene around the start of last year. I wanted to make functional club tools that were raw, stripped back, [and] void of melody and any emotive artefacts. It was also imperative that the record was purely analogue, so we ran the final premasters through a VHS tape recorder to give them that amazing warm tape saturation and punch for club sound systems." - L-Vis 1990



23. Joy O & Boddika
"Froth" b/w "Mercy"
(SunkLo)

"'Swims' came about quite quickly and was essentially a trial run for the two of us working together. We consciously wanted the SunkLo series to be separate to what we had done as individuals, and 'Froth'/'Mercy' were two of the earliest tracks we wrote together. As with everything in the Zoo (Boddika's studio), the two tracks were conceived through hours of jamming on the machines. The tracks sit somewhere between house and techno, but hopefully with the distinct UK elements that are important to us." - Boddika & Joy Orbison



22. Redshape
"Throw in Dirt" b/w "The Land"
(3024)

"Since I did the remix for his first album, Martyn and I started to exchange thoughts about music and things. The idea to do a full 3024 EP soon became reality. At that time, I was really into conceptional production, meaning I wanted to see electronic equipment actually replacing a more classic, band-like set-up where every member can only do one thing at a time. I kept everything mono and only panned for some stereo image. To see those 'tests' getting that much attention really makes me proud." - Redshape



21. Grimes
Visions
(4AD)

"Heh, well, thanks for choosing my record for the list. I reckon it's cheesy to say it's been a truly awesome year, but it has. It's very surreal. I'm not sure I've fully grasped everything that's happened. I dunno, making art is my favourite thing to do and I would do it regardless of whether or not people liked it, but it is really great when people do like it. So yeah, thanks! ^_^" - Grimes

XLR8R's Best of 2012 coverage will continue throughout the week, so check back each day for additional year-end round-ups. In the meantime, don't forget to take a look at the other Best of 2012 pieces we've posted already:

XLR8R's Best of 2012: Top Downloads
XLR8R's Best of 2012: Podcasts
XLR8R's Best of 2012: Features
XLR8R's Best of 2012: Videos
XLR8R's Best of 2012: Labels
XLR8R's Best of 2012: Hi, Doctor Nick!
XLR8R's Best of 2012: New Artists
XLR8R's Best of 2012: Overrated Releases
XLR8R's Best of 2012: Underwhelming Releases
XLR8R's Best of 2012: Tracks, Part One
XLR8R's Best of 2012: Tracks, Part Two

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